MADISON – More than 10,000 10- and 11-year-old mentored hunting licenses have been purchased since the September 1 start date of the new program.
The Mentored Hunting Law was created in close cooperation with Department of Natural Resources staff, hunting groups and the legislature.
“The enthusiasm and response to this new opportunity has been fantastic,” said DNR Secretary Matt Frank. “Study after study shows it takes a hunter to make a hunter. Introducing kids to hunting in a relaxed atmosphere with close supervision is key to nurturing a love of the natural world, a conservation ethic, and what may turn out to be a lifelong love and passion for the outdoors.”
“Hunting is an important tradition for many Wisconsin families,” said Rep. Ann Hraychuck, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Fish and Wildlife. “This law allows parents to decide when a child is ready to join in the family hunting traditions. The mentor is required to be ‘within arm’s reach at all times’ of the young hunter to provide safe firearm or bow handling supervision. Learning to hunt in a safe and controlled manner allows the mentor to share skills, ethics and an appreciation for the entire experience with the young hunter.”
Five hunting license types can be purchased under the Mentored Hunting Law. Within two weeks of the effective date of the new law 2,125 licenses had been sold. Through Nov 8, a total of 10,016 licenses have been purchased.
The majority of licenses sold have been gun deer licenses at 6,775. Deer archery sales have hit 1,097 and small game sales are at 1,895. Young hunters also purchased 247 fall turkey and 2 furbearer licenses.
And how have the young hunters been doing? A preliminary tally of deer registrations for the Oct 10-11 youth deer hunt (which is open to youth 10 to 15 years of age) shows that the harvest jumped from 989 in 2008 to 4,777 in 2009, a nearly 500 percent increase. There have been no reported hunting incidents involving any mentored hunters.
Wisconsin’s Mentored Hunting Law has been identified as being the safest set of controlled conditions for youth hunting in the nation. Mentors must be 18 years old and licensed hunters. Mentors may only accompany one 10- or 11-year-old at a time and must be within arm’s reach of the mentored hunter at all times. The pair may carry only one firearm or bow between them.
All other hunting and trapping rules apply with regard to season dates, season rules, bag limits, clothing requirements and harvest registration. Mentored hunters of any age do not need to complete a hunter safety education course prior to hunting under these controlled conditions, and if age 10 or 11, can purchase a reduced fee hunting license. Mentors must have completed a hunter safety education course if born after Jan. 1, 1973 unless they can provide proof they have completed basic training through the U.S. armed forces.
More information on mentored hunting and hunting in Wisconsin are available on the DNR Web site.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ben Mott - (608) 444-1244 or Bob Manwell - (608) 264-9248
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources